You know how I quit my regular job and this time didn’t want to get another one lest that put me back on the hamster wheel? The kicker is that by putting myself out of the wheel and getting myself off the single career track, I’ve also placed myself outside of most recognizable boxes Croatian bureaucracy and a large part of society needs to put me in.
This is a good thing, yes?
Why are there times then when I feel rotten about it?
At a Croatian police office where I go to register my new residence, a helpful clerk tries to sort out my case in an online database system.
“What is your profession?” is one of the first questions she asks, right after what’s your name.
“What are the choices?” I ask.
And why does this matter??? I ask, but in my mind only.
Predictably, a pull down menu shows a couple of dozen or so professions that have been around for a long time like doctor, lawyer, clerk, construction worker and such. I cannot find myself in any of them. To hurry things up (people in line behind me are already rolling their eyes and muttering comments), I go with my ex-profession: Docent (Assistant Professor in the USA, Lecturer in the UK).
I look up a definition of profession later on. Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary defines profession as “a principal calling, vocation, or employment”. Hmm, so what if you don’t have a principal but two or three equally principal callings? And what if you are not employed but you are also not unemployed? This is possible you know; I am a case in point.
Someone I just recently met asked me: “So what do you do?”
“Oh, all kinds of things. I write, I tend to my garden, I …” I start.
“No, no, I mean as a job,” she cuts me off impatiently.
“I don’t have a job per se,” I say.
“Ah, unemployed then,” she desperately tries to put me in a box.
“No,” I say coldly.
The woman looks at me for a few moments, then to my relief gives up completely.
It is 2:30 pm. The sun is shining and through the open window a breeze brings a scent of the sea. I smile. I will soon take my puppy for a walk. I have already tended to my garden, which will hopefully provide my family and me food soon, I worked on one of my research projects, I wrote, which some day will hopefully earn me money, and I painted with my son, which needs no explanation. Being off the hamster wheel makes me extremely productive. And creative. And satisfied.
So why do I sometimes feel so unworthy?
Let’s see… I don’t fit into the Croatian system. OK, but I sort of knew this already. Most people in Croatia judge me. Well, that’s nothing new, I am used to it. So what is all this about?
And then it hits me. It is me! I am judging me! I have been programmed for so long to believe that I am only worthy if I have a regular job, if I am climbing the ladder, if I am succeeding. No matter if all that meant not seeing my family, being a bitch most of the time, and destroying my body while sitting at the computer for hours on end.
A challenge then!
The world is moving on. Soon many of the current professions will be dinosaurs. As I write this, people are inventing new hybrid ‘professions’. It is time I moved on too. So long ridiculous online systems and forms! So long ladies who want to box me up! From today on I promise not to judge myself for not having a regular job, a profession, a vocation or however you want to call it. Perhaps next time I go change my residence, the form will be different. And perhaps the lady who wants to box me up will next time recognize my unorthodox ‘things I do’ as worthy. Probably not. But then again, who cares?